|Belfast-born Jimmy Ellis in his|
Z-Cars role as Bert Lynch. (Photo: Barratts)
Tonight was our St Patrick's Day session and almost all of the songs were Irish related. The exceptions were Paul, who entertained us with his own instrumental guitar compositions as usual and Derek's second song, in memory of Tony Benn who died this week. When Tony Benn was on Radio 4's Desert Island Discs, one of his records was He who would valiant be to the tune Monk's Gate. Derek therefore took the opportunity to sing another song to that same tune.
I think everything else sung at the session had some sort of Irish connection. I can't mention them all here, so here's just a small selection. You can find more in the YouTube link at the bottom of this report.
Mike kicked off the evening with Belle of Belfast city. Derek followed with an Irish version of Johnny Todd in memory of Jimmy Ellis who died on 8 March. For those too young to remember (my memory is very vague on it), Jimmy Ellis played Bert Lynch in the BBC TV series Z-Cars the theme tune of which was an instrumental version of Johnny Todd.
Here's a quick example of an Irish song sung by each person present, except Maggie S and Paul who didn't sing:
- Mike - Red haired Mary, which on one evening he was asked to sing many times by an Irishman whose daughter was apparently called Mary and had red hair
- Derek - The west's awake
- Colin - Ewan McColl's Indeed I would
- Steve G - The Saw Doctors' I useta lover
- Simon - Muirsheen Durkin
As usual there was a lot of good craic with most of us contributing funny stories of our experiences of Ireland. Mike had the story of the supposed weekend in Dingle, when he was waylaid in Cork at a three-day-long wake. He never made it to Dingle.
Steve G was taken in by a man offering him dodgy ponies, explaining that the start of the trail was just up the road - everyone had had enough when the trail was reached, and there were far better horses available there for the purpose.
Simon passed on some local knowledge for anyone buying the excellent fish and chips from Leo Burdock's shop, opposite Christchurch cathedral in Dublin. Apparently the fish comes with a small portion of chips, so strangers asking for "fish and chips" are effectively served two portions. The correct protocol is "I would like some fish please"; "Would you like chips with that?"; "No, just a few"!
At the interval Paul praised the communal singing at the Dragon Folk Club, especially the manly way we all join in with Mike's shanties (Mike is a member of the Bristol Shantymen)! Paul said that he had recently heard the Fisherman's Friends and considered them over-produced. At that Mike went into all sorts of ecstasy at finding a kindred soul. Mike's view is very similar and he also notes that they sing some songs written by Bristol local, Nobby Dwyer, apparently without crediting him.
Derek finished off the session with a rip-roaring unaccompanied rendition of Finnegan's wake. Any attempt to sing along with the chorus saw us left behind.
Mike and Maggie S won't be at next week's session, so the optional theme will be "Sing a song for Michael". I won't be there either, so the blog report will probably be written by Derek. More importantly, it means your attendance is required even more than usual to ensure it will be a great evening.
Here's a selection of these songs plus some others sung during the session.